Brandy: A strong alcoholic spirit distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice.
Categories include: Cognac, Armagnac, American Brandies (Apple Brandy was the very first distilled spirit made in America.) and fruit brandies.
Brandy began being distilled as a medicine in France around 1313 with commercial distaillation of drinking brandy beginning in the 1500's. According to Wikipedia, "Brandy" is a shortening of brandywine, which was derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, which literally means "burned wine", (derived from the process that most brandies are made with by applying heat, originally from open flames, to wine.)
V.S. (very superior) or V.S.P. (very special) or three stars designates a blend in which the youngest brandy has been stored for at least two years in a cask.
V.S.O.P. (very superior old pale), Reserve or five stars designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least four years in a cask.
XO (extra old) or Napoléon designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least (recently upgraded to) ten years.
Hors d'âge (beyond age) is a designation which is formally equal to XO for Cognac, but for Armagnac designates brandy that is at least ten years old. The term is used by producers to market a high-quality product beyond the official age scale.
Though I am not as well versed in brandies as I would like to be, I do enjoy a good snifter of very excellent (hidden and hoarded) Cognac and I love brandy in cocktails. I generally opt for a good mid-range VSOP for my cocktails, leaving my much pricier Cognac as a treat for very special occasions.
2 dashes each of Angostura bitters and Peychaud's bitters with a lemon peel garnish
AN APERITIF TO REMEMBER
BRANDY OLD FASHIONED
CHERRIES JUBILEE MARTIN
CHERRY CLAFOUTIS MARTINI
CHERRY PIE MARTINI
CRÊPES SUZETTE COCKTAIL
DRUNKEN CHERRY MARTINI
END OF THE WORLD MARTINI
ROSH HASHANAH COCKTAIL
SPARKLING PEAR MARTINI
SPICED APPLE OLD FASHIONED
TANGELO BOURBON TANGO WITH COGNAC FOAM
WICKED WITCH'S BREW